WASHINGTON (Nexstar) — After Congress failed to reach a deal on a new coronavirus relief package, President Trump signed 4 executive orders over the weekend he says will help Americans.
But critics, like Oregon Sen. Jeff Merkley, said the orders won’t actually deliver much relief.
“They are a complete mess and will not help people hardly at all,” Merkley said.
The first problem with the president’s executive orders is some states can’t afford to pay for 25% of the $400-per-week unemployment extension, he said, and said the proposal is too complicated.
“By the time they get it up and operating people will have been missing the extra funding for week after week after week,” he said.
Trump said some states may not have to pay for the extra unemployment benefits. “We can do a 100% or we can do 75%, they pay 25,” Trump said. “It will depend on the state.”
Only Congress holds the power to appropriate funds but the White House said the executive orders are legal.
“The Stafford Act says the president, after a state applies for it, can provide assistance to people who have been adversely affected by a major disaster,” Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany said.
The other executive orders defer payroll taxes, as well as rent, mortgage and student loan payments for some Americans. The White House says that will provide immediate relief.
“OK, your payroll tax will be deferred but you still owe them,” Merkley said. “So it’s going to be a huge chunk out of your future check.”
The Oregon Democrat said the president should instead focus on a national strategy to stop the spread of the coronavirus and support the Democrat’s Heroes Act to extend the extra $600 unemployment benefit and give more money to cities and states.